I have long been interested in the Black Madonna—ever since, back in my first year of my doctoral studies in France, I stood in Chartres Cathedral and saw her statue for the first time. I was amazed. Even though I had been a Roman Catholic for 27 years and had studied within the Dominican Order for ten years and was a newly minted priest, I had never once heard of her.
After gazing at her for some time I approached a French woman in the Cathedral and asked her about this icon. She replied: “oh, that is the result of so many candles being lit here over the centuries, the statue has turned black.” I took another look at the statue and concluded the woman, here in her own very special Cathedral from the twelfth century, had lost touch entirely with her own tradition and did not have a clue about the Black Madonna. I resolved to learn more about the Black Madonna and ever since then I have had my antennae up to learn more about the Black Madonna, having read a number of books, listened to the experiences of many people including their dreams, lectured on her, and written quite a bit about her.*
But Alessandra Belloni’s presentation of this ancient archetype is special. It is special because the author comes from the land that hold the oldest shrines we know of to the Black Madonna. While the Black Madonna can be found in Russia, Czechoslovakia, Germany, Switzerland, Spain, France, Poland, Brazil, Portugal, nevertheless the oldest of the shrines are in Sicily and date to at least the third century.
Carl Jung says that archetypes return when we need them. From listening to peoples’ dreams and experiences of the Black Madonna for years, it is clear to me that she is returning at this time, this critical time, in human and planetary history.
Adapted from the Preface by Matthew Fox for Alessandra Belloni, Healing Journeys with the Black Madonna.
For more on the Black Madonna see: Matthew Fox, Naming the Unnameable, pp. 92-93.
Matthew Fox, The Hidden Spirituality of Men, pp. 231-244
(Banner image of the Black Madonna of Tindari by Franz Clement, “Patti Tindari Schwarze Madonna”)
Query for Contemplation
Why is the Black Madonna returning in such force today? Meditate on this question today…
Recommended Further Reading
The mysteries of the Black Madonna can be traced to pre-Christian times, to the ancient devotion to Isis, the Earth Goddess, and the African Mother, to the era when God was not only female but also black. Sacred sites of the Black Madonna are still revered in Italy, and, as author Alessandra Belloni reveals, the shamanic healing traditions of the Black Madonna are still alive today and just as powerful as they were millennia ago.
Too often, notions of God have been used as a means to control and to promote a narrow worldview. In Naming the Unnameable, renowned theologian and author Matthew Fox ignites our imaginations by offering a colorful range of Divine Names gathered from scientists and poets and mystics past and present, inviting us to always begin where true spirituality begins: from experience.
To awaken what Fox calls “the sacred masculine,” he unearths ten metaphors, or archetypes, ranging from the Green Man, an ancient pagan symbol of our fundamental relationship with nature, to the Spiritual Warrior….These timeless archetypes can inspire men to pursue their higher calling to connect to their deepest selves and to reinvent the world.